I began my Labor Day weekend attending the 72nd annual Southern District Jr. Young Buddhist League Conference.
It was an honor to participate at the in-person event hosted by the Orange County Buddhist Church Jr. YBA members. They did an outstanding job as hosts along with the support from their dedicated parents, alumni parents, advisers, and ministers.
The theme was “Finding Dharma in Disneyland,” a possible reference to OCBC being located in close proximity to the “Happiest Place on Earth.”
However, there are also many Dharma messages in Disney and “Star Wars” movies. The Dharma is all around us. While I was at the conference, I felt like I was at the “Happiest Place.” I was able to be at OCBC in the beautiful Hondo, listening to the Dharma and chanting the Sutra together with Dharma friends.
I witnessed our Buddhist high school students: chairing service; chanting out loud; listening to the Dharma from Bishop Rev. Marvin Harada and Rev. Jon Turner: leading workshops and meetings; emceeing the banquet; seeing friends for the first time in person in more than two years; meeting each other for the first time (since they were meeting over Zoom since 2020); laughing; playing Jenga; taking silly pictures in the photo booth; and dancing the night away.
It was wonderful to see advisers, parents, and ministers that I haven’t seen for a few years. It was also great to meet and get acquainted with the new advisers and parents. I greatly appreciate the support everyone gives toward the Jr. YBA. It is important to lay a solid foundation for our youth. Someday, these Jr. YBA members will become BCA leaders. They are the future leaders of our temples.
I would like to continue the introduction of the BCA committees. In keeping with the youth program theme, this month, I would like to introduce the National Buddhist Committee on Scouting chaired by Robert Tanaka. The committee assists the BCA with this youth outreach program by administering the religious award programs for Scouts, Camp Fire and non-Scout Dharma School students. The committee also coordinates with the national organization of the Scouts and Camp Fire programs.
Another committee that focuses on outreach is the BCA Social Welfare Committee, chaired by Celeste Sterrett. Thanks to the generosity of many, the committee has been able to make recommendations for the disbursement of funds from the BCA Social Welfare Fund. The purpose of the fund is to aid those suffering from deprivations of basic human needs with the ultimate goal to help, sustain, or attain a way of life, which promotes mental, physical and spiritual well-being. Grants have been given to nonprofit organizations trying to fulfill these needs. Your Dana has touched the lives of many.
As I look at the current BCA leadership, temple leaders, ministers and ministerial aspirants, many were once YBA members. And we have many other dedicated leaders who have found Shin Buddhism later in their journey. The Dharma has brought us together as we continue to share and receive our wonderful tradition. We have our own personal reasons why we do what we do for our churches, temples and BCA. I am sure it is out of gratitude for being able to receive the Dharma at one’s “Happiest Place” and the desire to share with all. Thank you for all you do!